Britain urgently needs a zero carbon source of reliable energy for our homes, industry and the new generation of electric vehicles. This summer's electricity blackouts suggest that we're a long way from achieving the goal. Tom Heap and a panel of power experts offer their solutions.
Tom is joined by Jillian Ambrose, Energy Correspondent of The Guardian, the Chief Executive of the Committee on Climate Change, Chris Stark and CEO of power company Good Energy, Juliet Davenport.
Producer: Alasdair Cross
Carbon Free Islands
Orkney's strong winds and powerful tides have attracted renewable energy pioneers for decades. For much of the year the islands produce more energy than they can use. Turbines are shut down and green energy goes to waste. The UK government has spotted an opportunity, funding the REFLEX project which aims to use that excess energy to develop new ways to power a community.
Tom Heap visits Orkney to see how hydrogen storage, huge batteries and electric ferries and cars can be lashed together with clever software to remove fossil fuels from an entire energy system.
Producer: Alasdair Cross
The e-DNA Revolution
From the Loch Ness Monster and mammoths to the Amazon river and uncharted river flies - 'environmental DNA' is revolutionising how we tell what species are present in a certain landscape. Traces of skin, mucus or gametes can be left by creatures in their environment and scientists can use samples from the water, air or soil and sequence the DNA found within to test for a specific species or to get a broader picture of what is there. It can help monitor for invasive species and even look back to ancient history. Samples can be taken by non-experts, in remote locations, quicker than some traditional methods and it's non invasive. Scientists say this can speed up and revolutionise how we chart our living world....which in some cases might flag up the most urgent need to intervene where species are threatened.
The technique has been used recently by Prof Neil Gemmell from University of Otago working with experts from the Loch Ness Centre - to search for evidence of what is and isn't present in the depths but it's also being used in more applications around the world.
Jheni Osman explores why scientists are so excited about this modern technique, how long the traces last and what it might reveal in the future.
Produced by Anne-Marie Bullock
Plastic nets and equipment left in the ocean by fishing boats is estimated to make up over 10% of marine rubbish and in the 'Great Pacific Garbage Patch' over 40% of the accumulated plastic is lost fishing gear. Even worse these plastic 'ghost nets' can go on catching fish and attracting other wildlife which then become entangled too. Often these nets are very old and once they finally do start to degrade they add to the problem of 'microplastics' which are ingested by sea creatures. It's a big global problem but as Lucy Siegle discovers in Cornwall and Italy there are lots of solutions on offer and teams of enthusiastic volunteer divers who want to get these old nets out of the sea and into a recycling scheme.
With the help of 'Ghost Fishing UK' Lucy takes a look at what can be done to prevent more 'ghost gear' being lost and to help get existing nets out of our oceans.
Fire in the Amazon
How can we prevent a repeat of the devastating fires in the Amazon? Tom Heap and Lucy Siegle search for solutions.
Producer: Emma Campbell